South Side Hit Pen’s Best of the 2010s

Three generations: One indelible memory. (Leonard Gore)


That last Christmas gift under the tree? Yep, it’s from your friends at South Side Hit Pen.

After we delivered our take on the very, very best and beyond, beyond worst games of 2019 last month, we decided to wrap up an extra-special treat, as we wrap up 2019 and the Teens to boot.

An octo-rama of the best and brightest SSHP writers present to you our Best of the 2010s — please enjoy.


Orlando Hudson leads off in what would quickly become a season finale onslaught.
Sure, it was a meaningless game, but it was also the last time the White Sox ended a season with a record better than .500. That wasn’t particularly inspiring at the time, because the White Sox had led the division until a week before, but looking back, a mere September collapse was the best of times. Plus, the score was significant — 9-0 being the official score of a baseball forfeit, given that the Sox would as good as forfeit the rest of the decade. The game itself had its moments – Gavin Floyd pitched seven innings of three-hit ball for his 12th victory of the season; Paulie and Dayan Viciedo hit dingers; the immortal Dan Johnson slammed three homers and picked up five RBIs, bringing his season total to six; and Adam Dunn improved the game significantly by not playing. (Yeah, yeah, that was his 41-homer year. So what?) — Leigh Allan

White Sox 9, Braves 6
June 22, 2010
There were two games that immediately jumped to mind, one sad, another happy. The sad one came in September 2011 in Kansas City, when manager Ozzie Guillén and I, both of us sensing it would be our last days together before setting off into other endeavors beyond the White Sox, sat alone and commiserated over our fates and futures for about 20 minutes in the visiting manager’s office of Kauffman Stadium. But I’m choosing the happier one, instead. And that game is a June win in Chicago, my first game on the White Sox beat. I was a week or so from riding in the Blackhawks Stanley Cup parade, finishing up my one-and-done year on that beat before jumping right into the White Sox job for CSN Chicago. I’d covered the White Sox before, but never as a permanent job, and after writing stories for the beat-less Comcast during the Hawks playoff run — some even on a Blackberry after my netbook exploded in San Jose — I sort of forced my way into a dream job on the White Sox beat. It was the start of a two-year run with the team that was hard as hell, but a glorious and lucky time for me. I recall no details of the game beyond an early offensive assault and the win pushing the team over .500, but I hopped on the beat with the White Sox in the midst of a six-game winning streak, and from there my pugnacious prose helped compel the club to jump from third to first place during a 14-5 run (20 of 25 wins overall) that made me think, briefly, that after a first Stanley Cup in 49 years and now a 20-5 run with my new Chicago team, I was some sort of lucky charm. Of course, I was proven wrong by September 2010, but this season — and this game — will always be a magical memory for me. — Brett Ballantini

White Sox 4, Tigers 3
July 23, 2016
It was a day that was supposed to feature a cool retro jersey: the 1976 navy pajama top. Me and a group of friends normally went to the cool promotional games — the Hawaiian shirt games, jersey giveaways, steins, etc. — because the promotions have been the best thing about the Sox the past decade. If it is a cool promotion, we will be there. So, we mainly went to that game in July for the giveaway, but with the trade deadline nearing, we also understood it could be Chris Sale’s last game at Sox Park. While we were in line waiting to get into the park among what was a pretty good crowd, we all got phone alerts via Twitter, multiple reports coming in that Sale would not be starting the game. Immediately, we all turned to each other and asked if he was traded. As the line got moving, more and more fans were looking at their phones and turning to their group, all equally confused.

Now, my friends and I wanted a rebuild (and still support it), so we were giddy that a potential trade was in the works. A pitcher scratched from a start in late July surely made it seem like a trade was imminent. As confusion permeated the lines and the stadium, we collected our retro jerseys at the turnstiles and went upstairs to our seats. Looking back now, we should have noticed something obvious: The Sox were not wearing the 1976 jerseys, they instead were in the 1983s. But we did not think anything of it at the time (you can say we were stupid, and I will admit we were/are). As game time grew closer, the story became clear: Chris Sale was not traded; he threw a temper tantrum. He cut up the jerseys the Sox were supposed to wear on that day.

Once that information found its way to our laps, we all just laughed and laughed. In the same year where the Sox had the Drake Laroche debacle, another White Sox childish display was the talk of baseball. Because Sale did not start, Robin Ventura had to go to an impromptu bullpen day, and the bullpen did very well: Matt Albers, Dan Jennings, Tommy Kahnle, Zach Duke, Nate Jones and David Robertson went all-out to get through the day and on to the next. The Tigers were able to put up three runs in eight innings, including a blown save by Jones. Meanwhile, the Sox offense did just enough. Avisaíl García drove in two runs through the first eight innings, with a home run. Dioner Navarro doubled in another run. It was a rainy day by the end of the game, so we left before the game was suspended after the eighth inning, and we did not go back for the ninth the next day, when Adam Eaton ended the game with an RBI single.

But the game was really a second act on the day: The real story was Sale’s. He ended up being suspended for five games, missing one turn in the rotation. But looking back now, that day must have made it much easier for the front office to trade him in the upcoming offseason. For me and my friends, we do not remember much about the game, but we all have vivid memories of the shock we all had once the true story came out, punctuated by the team wearing 1983s instead of 1976s.

The 2016 team was not all that bad, but it was the most embarrassing season to be a Sox fan in recent memory. This game was the exclamation point. — Darren Black


The youngest Gore scored his first-ever White Sox game at the tail end of 2019. (Leonard Gore)
White Sox 5, Angels 1
Sept. 8, 2019
Since nothing of any baseball importance happened during the seven years of the decade a White Sox fan was the POTUS, I’ll go with a personal choice that just snuck in under the wire. Sept. 8, 2019 was a completely forgettable and insignificant Sox 5-1 win over a Trout-less Angels team.  José Abreu homered; Danny Mendick homered (the first of his career!); Dylan Cease was wild (of course); and every starter got a hit except for Adam Engel (of course-of course).
But what made it most memorable for me was the fact that it was my son’s first ever White Sox game! And frankly, I didn’t spend much time watching this game because I was happy to have him with me. We watched a couple of innings, met Ron Kittle outside the park (of course-of course-of-course), and spent most of the game in the Fundamentals Kids Zone in left field doing all the baseball activities over and over. My dad and brother also were there, so it was three generations of Gore boys to enjoy a day that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. — Leonard Gore

Royals 4, White Sox 1
Sept. 29, 2013

White Sox 9, Rays 6
April 25, 2014
Looking for the best White Sox game of the decade was no easy task. But after digging through the dumpster fire of the last decade that was White Sox baseball, I stumbled across April 25, 2014, an evening affair against the Rays that produced some nice fireworks.

Cut to the top of the ninth at U.S. Cellular Field, as Evan Longoria smashed a two-run dinger off of Matt Lindstrom to straightaway center field, breaking a 4-4 tie. Things were looking grim for the Sox, but they got through the rest of the inning unscathed. Then in the bottom of the ninth, with two on and one out, Paul Konerko walked to load the bases. Adam Eaton was up next, and narrowly avoided hitting into a double play to end the game, just beating out the throw at first as a run scored. Grant Balfour then walked Marcus Semien to load the bases once again, setting the stage for José Abreu.

Abreu did not disappoint, smashing a walk-off grand slam into the bullpen in right center field, his second dinger of the game. Ballgame!!! This game set the stage for six years of heroics from José, as he’s been the star who has shined the brightest during that time for the White Sox. — Scott Reichard (guitarsox)


Image result for White Sox 9, Mariners 8 Aug. 24, 2012
The Tank and The Donkey, celebrating the moments of their lives.
The White Sox were fresh off a sweep of the mighty New York Yankees, who finished the season with the best record in the American League. So things were looking up for the White Sox, who held a two-game lead in the AL Central. The mediocre Mariners visited The Cell, and the White Sox broke through early and often against starter Jason Vargas. Even free agent bust Adam Dunn went deep, as the White Sox chased Vargas from the game after only four innings, leading 6-2 when Vargas departed. The White Sox tacked on one more against the bullpen to take a 7-2 lead.
Meanwhile, Jake Peavy settled in nicely, allowing only two runs in seven innings. Matt Thornton took care of business in a drama-free eighth inning, and it appeared the Mariners would go down quietly. However, the ninth inning was far from drama-free. Robin Ventura made an odd decision to have Philip Humber start the ninth inning. Though Humber had thrown a perfect game a few months earlier, his performance between the perfect game and this outing was rough: a 6.67 ERA and  .284/.363/.518 slash against him. Ventura’s strange decision did not pay off on this warm, August night, as Humber’s struggles continued: a leadoff home run and walk before departing with one out. In to pitch stepped Donnie Veal, who allowed a double to the first and only batter he faced.
But, it was OK, as the White Sox still led 7-3, and Seattle’s tying run was still on deck. Addison Reed, who came in to pitch after Veal, had room for error. Unfortunately, Reed could not get the job done, allowing four of his first five hitters to reach base safely, and the final hit was costly. John Jaso’s single gave the Mariners an 8-7 lead and took the wind out of many fans’ sails.
Luckily, the White Sox offense woke back up, as they solved Seattle’s Tom Wilhelmsen. Kevin Youkilis hit an RBI single to tie the game, and Paul Konerko won it with a base hit into right-center to score Dewayne Wise. This was the wildest game I have ever seen in person, and I am thankful that I was able to attend. In the bottom of the eighth, one of my friends was wondering aloud if we should take off early and beat the traffic. Mercy, I sure am glad that we did not listen. — Joe Resis

OK, so this clip doesn’t feature the Yolmer Homer, but it does include a Yolmer two-bagger and a cameo from our own traveling win streak, Ashley Sanders.
White Sox 9, Rays 2
July 19, 2019
Although it has been a very disappointing decade for the Chicago White Sox, there have been many games worth celebrating. For my favorite game of the 2010s, like many of us I’m picking among games I attended. Of those 29 games, July 19, 2019 in St. Pete against the Tampa Bay Rays is my reigning favorite. A 9-2 squelching of Tampa Bay included a Yolmer Homer — and those are legendary! Reynaldo López pitched seven innings, the Sox tallied 17 hits, and it was an electric victory that ended a seven-game losing streak. Whenever the pitching and hitting are so in sync, it creates an all-around fantastic game! — Ashley Sanders

Thank you, Yolmer Sánchez!

A decade of fun and laughter: The White Sox gave him a chance, and Yolmer Sánchez has capitalized on it for the past 10 years. (Ashley Sanders)


As my favorite Chicago White Sox player, the recent moves surrounding Yolmer Sánchez have been difficult to comprehend. Instead of dwelling on something that I cannot control, I decided to go back and research (with the tremendous help from Baseball-Reference) Sánchez’s progress throughout the Sox organization and celebrate the life that he has given to his team and fans.

Sánchez became a member of the Chicago White Sox organization on May 6, 2009. At the time, Sánchez was known as “Carlos”: A 16-year-old, switch-hitting infielder looking for a chance to make it to The Show. (For respect toward his name, Sánchez will be referred to as “Yolmer” throughout the article.)

The timeline of Sánchez’s impact as a member of the White Sox:

2009-11

For his first two years in the organization, Yolmer played for the Dominican Summer League and the Appalachian League. By 2011, Sánchez made his way out of rookie ball, playing second base and shortstop for the Low-A Kannapolis Intimidators.

For the four months (June-September) that Sánchez was in Kannapolis, he batted .288/.341/.345. He accumulated 76 hits in 63 games, snagged seven bags, and even shot a long ball into the stands! As for his defense, Sánchez had a .980 fielding percentage at second base (53 games) and a .949 fielding percentage at shortstop (10 games).

2012

Sánchez’s early success propelled him to start with the High-A Winston-Salem Dash for the beginning of the 2012 season. From April to July, Yolmer slashed .315/.374/.395 in 92 games. With 19 stolen bases, six triples, and another home run, Sánchez was promoted to the Birmingham Barons (Double-A). In 30 games, Sánchez’s batting line looked like this: .370/.424/.462. On the up-and-up again, Yolmer traveled to his third minor league team in just one baseball year, the Triple-A Charlotte Knights.

At 20, Sánchez was one of the youngest players in Triple-A. The actual youngest at the time? Mike Trout, 19.

In a limited, 11-game window, Sánchez batted .256/.256/.308. Collectively, Sánchez was positioned at shortstop for 68 games and second base for 60, where he was credited with .967 and .982 fielding percentages, respectively. He aided 46 double plays at short and 39 at second. Overall, 2012 saw Yolmer surging through the ranks, as he was firing on all cylinders.

Sánchez did participate in the Sox’s Arizona Fall League, and played winter Venezuelan baseball to cap off his successful 2012 campaign.

2013

Yolmer started and ended his 2013 season with the Charlotte Knights, continuing where he left off the year prior. In 112 games, Yolmer slashed .241/.293/.296. He still saw roughly even playing time at short and second. Playing 52 games at shortstop, Sánchez had a .943 fielding percentage; for the 61 games at second base, Sánchez fielded .983. He was a part of 67 total double plays, and he only committed four errors while playing second.

For the third straight year, Sánchez went on to play winter ball in Venezuela.

2014

For the second straight year, Sánchez started the season with Charlotte. He played 110 games, all the while fighting to not fall back into organizational filler status. After a disappointing offensive 2013, Sánchez performed to the high standards of a .293/.349/.412 batting line. Yolmer played twice at third, 44 games at short and 64 games at second with outstanding fielding percentages across the board.

Establishing himself as a reliable defender and an uprising hitter, Sánchez received the call in July and made his way to The Show!

On July 13, 2014, Sánchez donned No. 77 in his major league debut for the Chicago White Sox, a team who had all the faith in a Venezuelan teenager. Batting second and playing shortstop, Sánchez began a five-year stint in the majors. Unfortunately, he went went 0-for-5, popping out to second base in his first plate appearances and striking out twice. However, Yolmer was perfect in the field, foreshadowing his incredible skill that would eventually earn him a Gold Glove in 2019.

In his second major league baseball game on August 2, Sánchez secured his first major league hit, a single to right field off of Detroit’s Shane Greene, in a 3-for-4 performance!

Sanchez Rookie Season.JPG

On September 27, 2014, I snapped a shot of my favorite player for years to come. Note the lack of accent mark on the jersey in those less-enlightened days. (Ashley Sanders)

Sánchez finished the rest of the 2014 season with the White Sox. He played 28 games: one at short and 27 at second base. He recorded an almost-perfect fielding percentage of .992 at second. Offensively, Yolmer batted .250/.269/.300.

Once again, Sánchez went to Venezuela to play winter ball for the Tiburones de La Guaira to finish his 2014 baseball campaign.

2015

When the 2015 season came rolling into view, Sánchez started his year with the Sox (debuting his new No. 5 jersey). However, it was a short-lived stint from April 8 to April 10, heading back to Charlotte from April 12 to May 13. Not losing any hope for a long-term major-league stay, Sánchez put together a .344/.368/.466 batting line back on the farm. With 26 games at second base, Sánchez put together a .980 fielding percentage, and he played perfect defense at third base for three games.

Tearing up the minors as he did, the White Sox brought Sánchez back up to the big leagues. And shortly into his second stint of the season with the Sox, Sánchez made a major impact.

Sanchez 2015.JPG

On July 11, 2015, Yolmer Sánchez signed a baseball for me down in St. Pete, my very first player autograph. (Ashley Sanders) 

Later that month, my man, Yolmer Homer, ripped a long ball to the stands!

The following day, this happened:

Hyping my No. 1:

Selfie Sunday Sanchez

Arguably the best-ever promotion by the White Sox (#SelfieSunday) gave me another chance to meet Sánchez, on Aug. 30, 2015. (Ashley Sanders)

Sanchez Photo Bomb

Sánchez photobombed a picture featuring my Mom, Avisaíl García, and me. (Ashley Sanders)

First Selfie with Sanchez

Sánchez and I snapped a selfie, a tradition for many years to come. (Ashley Sanders)

Sánchez finished the 2015 season playing 120 games with the South Siders. He batted .224/.268/.326, crushing five home runs, notching a triple, and going 2-for-2 in steals. Defensively, Sánchez played all his games at second base, securing a .990 fielding percentage. Overall, he made a lifelong fan.

Winter 2015 was the last time Sánchez ventured back to his home country to play winter ball.

2016

In order to improve his bat, Sánchez started his 2016 campaign with the Knights. He played 61 games, racking up a .255/.309/.421 batting line, with a .984 fielding percentage between short and second base. Staying true to pattern, Sánchez found his way back to the majors … twice!

And after the July 27 call-up, Sánchez was up with Chicago to stay.

He played 53 games with the Sox that season. He put up a disappointing slash line of .208/.236/.357 with four home runs, but Sánchez did not lose hope.

2017

Before the 2017 season, Sánchez was asked, for the first time in his professional career, how he would like to be addressed. He responded with, “Yolmer,” and a resurgence of Sánchez occurred!

#LeadoffYolmerHomer

Sánchez played 141 games in 2017 with a much-improved batting line: .267/.319/.413. He hit a career-high 12 homers on the season (#YolmerHomer) and had a career-high 59 RBIs. Splitting time between second base (78 games) and third base (52 games) (with two outfield appearances and one at shortstop), Yolmer had .981 and .977 fielding percentages, respectively. This was his best season as a South Sider. Overall he established himself as a reliable, dependable player in his first full season with the White Sox.

2018

This influence carried over into the 2018 season where Sánchez earned his first ever spot in the Opening Day lineup! He started at third base, his primary position of the season. Having a solidified spot in the lineup, Yolmer went on to have another impactful year.

Yolmer April 2018

The first Yolmer selfie of the 2018 season (April 23)! (Ashley Sanders)

And Yolmer kicked off the season with the most iconic Gatorade celebration of the century:

Yolmer Father's Day 2018.JPG

Father’s Day selfie. (Ashley Sanders)

Back at St. Pete where it all began:

The goofy shenanigans strike again:

When I thought that I couldn’t love Yolmer any more than I already do:

Silly Yolmer

Sept. 1, 2018 was one of the best days of my life. (Ashley Sanders)

When 2018 came to a close, Sánchez put up a .242/.306/.372 batting line with eight long balls and 55 RBIs. He recorded a hat trick for career-highs in games played, plate appearances, and triples: 155, 662, and 10, respectively. In fact, Sánchez and Mallex Smith led the American League with 10 triples apiece.

Christmas Sanchez

Best Christmas present ever. (Ashley Sanders)

2019

For a second straight season, Yolmer Sánchez earned a spot in the Opening Day lineup. Uncharacteristically, Sánchez made four errors within the first 10 games, but had only five the rest of the season.

Sanchez Selfie 2019

Another season, another Sánchez selfie (June 15, 2019)! (Ashley Sanders)

Another year, another trip to St. Pete:

Game recognizing game:

Game Recognizes Game

Icons

Sanchez Autograph

Sánchez wrapped up the 2019 season hitting .252/.318/.321 and came in clutch a few times this season:

His fielding percentage was .987, and he aided in a career-high 108 double plays, and he made many beautiful plays like this:

With his tremendous showing as a second baseman, Sánchez earned the Rawlings Gold Glove Award for 2019, beating out finalists DJ LeMahieu and José Altuve.

From his 10 years playing baseball as a member of the White Sox organization, Yolmer Sánchez brought an infectious personality, a reliable glove, and a guy who meets with the fans before every single baseball game. He has accumulated a 8.6 WAR in his major league career. He’s batting .244/.299/.357, and he has hit 31 #YolmerHomers. His career fielding percentage sits at .986 for second base, and he helped turn 330 double plays. At 27 years old, there is still room for growth. His personality and glove-dependability almost ensured himself as a piece to this team’s future … until the bad news dropped:

It’s a bitter business, and it’s a shame that Sánchez has become a free agent. Forever the optimist, I hope by some miracle that Yolmer is signed back into the South Side. Regardless, he is a player who deserves to be on a team by the time spring training rolls around. I’ll be rooting for him no matter where he goes.

I would like to thank Yolmer for bringing life to the organization, hustling during every play, and for being a fan’s favorite player. He gave me someone to root for, and for all his kind acts, this is the least I can do to illustrate my gratitude.

Here’s to Yolmer Sánchez!